Russia hesitantly on board with OPEC price efforts

Russian energy minister in June said the Kremlin wasn't expecting "any surprises."

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Kremlin is on board with efforts made by OPEC to stabilize market prices, but such efforts should be temporary, the Russian energy minister said.

Referencing an interview in the Arab-language Ahsarq al-Awsat, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying the door is open to multilateral efforts to stimulate the market should such a need arise.


"Speculators noted that producing countries may reach an agreement," he said.

Novak met in early 2016 with his counterparts from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to consider production arrangements. He said in April he was "optimistic" that major producers would agree to hold output steady at January levels. When the proposal dissolved in June, Novak said he expected members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to stand pat on long-term policies that favor market dynamics.

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"We didn't expect any surprises," he said at the time. Novak was quoted Monday by the Russian news agency as saying he was on board with the renewed proposals, "provided that these are made temporarily."

In recent remarks to the official Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi oil minister confirmed oil production was at a record 10.6 million barrels per day. Despite signs of sluggish economic growth, the minister said there's still a strong demand for Saudi oil because other producers are in decline because of the pressure from lower oil prices.


Nevertheless, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said crude oil prices are too low to support investments necessary for an increase in overall output.

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"We are, in Saudi Arabia, watching the market closely, and if there is a need to take any action to help the market rebalance, then we would, of course in cooperation with OPEC and major non-OPEC exporters," he said.

A meeting of producers is scheduled next month in Algeria.

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